Iran Nuclear Deal Implementation Ready, Some World Leaders Still Wary
Western sanctions against Iran draws to a close as Iran's foreign minister suggests the U.N. Atomic Agency is close to certifying that his country has met all stipulations under its landmark nuclear deal.
Iranian Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif held a series of meetings with his European Union and U.S. counterparts - including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry - on implementing the accord, The Associated Press reports.
"All oppressive sanctions imposed against Iran will be annulled today," Zarif said on Iranian state TV, indicating the end of a number of penalties imposed on the country to make it restrict its nuclear program.
Certification by the International Atomic Energy Agency would allow Iran to immediately recoup some $100 billion in assets frozen overseas. The benefits of new oil, trade and financial opportunities from suspended sanctions could prove far more valuable for Tehran in the long run.
GOP front-runner Donald Trump criticized the Iranian nuclear deal while at a campaign event in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
"Now I have to see what the deal is for the four people, because someone said they were getting seven back. So essentially, they get 150 billion plus seven, and we get four. Doesn't sound too good. Doesn't sound too good," he said. "I am happy they are coming back, but it is a disgrace they have been there this long, a total disgrace."
Trump's running mates, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul welcome the release of Pastor Saeed Abedini in the U.S.-Iran prisoner swap but Marco Rubio says they should not have been captured in the first place.
Iran insists all of its nuclear activities are peaceful. But progress was slowed in lifting sanctions. A senior diplomat with the nuclear deal said that at the last minute French and U.S officials were concerned with restricting Iran's ability to complete nuclear research.
A State Department official said "some technical clarifications" were taking place but added: "There is no major issue being fought over." The official demanded anonymity in line with State Department practice.
In the July 14th deal, Iran agreed to pull back on programs which could be used to make nuclear weapons in return for an end to sanctions.
The agreement puts Iran's various nuclear activities under IAEA watch for up to 15 years, with an option to re-impose sanctions should Tehran break its commitments.